Volkswagen is a leading car producer in the world, but lately, the company has been embroiled in a scandal where it has been accused of cheating to pass the emission tests.
- Volkswagen has been accused of using a “defeat device” in diesel car engines. The device can detect when the car is being tested and adjusts to testing mode, which in turn makes the engine produce lower emissions, but when in normal driving the car emits 10 to 40 times higher than the allowed emissions.
- The company has admitted to fitting about 11million cars with the device. Following these allegations, they have started recalling all the cars that have been sold out for correction purposes. The allegations have seen the company’s CEO and other top managers resign in a bid to regain the public trust.
- The scandal has seen Volkswagen being faulted for most of the emissions. They have since been blamed for most of the respiratory-related illnesses that have affected quite a sizable population.
The Volkswagen had problems in meeting the set emission limits since they used outdated technology in developing their engines which led to high emissions. The investigation by the EU revealed that about 90% of cars that operate in Europe do not meet the emission limits, especially when they are on the road.
The diesel engines usually have good mileage when on normal driving, but have high emissions when they are being tested. The allegation has been proven to be true since the Volkswagen Company has accepted that they use “defeat devices,” which can sense when the car is on emissions test mode and switches on the device but turns it off during normal driving, hence leading to high emissions.
The catalytic converter is an important device designed to reduce exhaust gases that cause respiratory complications and environmental pollution. However, the converter does not work well in diesel engines, especially in reducing the exhaust fumes since the engines are usually cooler than the standard engines. Given that the converter works better as the temperature rises, this explains why they are not effective in diesel engines.
Health Costs from Excess Emissions
Volkswagen has been blamed for excessive exhaust gas emissions. According to American Cancer Society, there has been an increase in premature deaths related to respiratory infections. Also, there has been a rise in cases of hospital admissions with people complaining of respiratory issues. In addition, there have been increased cases of chronic bronchitis. Clean Air Act (CAA) has shown that since Volkswagen started using the “defeat device,” there has been an increase of 36.7million kilograms of excess emissions in the environment. These emissions have resulted in death and other non-fatal complications. Cases of 59 early deaths at a cost of $450 million have been attributed to the excess exhaust gases. Indeed, 31 cases of bronchitis, 34 hospital admissions, and about 210000 cases of respiratory complications have been reported. The study has shown that the particulate matter exposure has resulted in an increase in mortality rate from 16 to 106 since Volkswagen started using the “defeat device,” which in turn allowed too many emissions.
Nations have come together to find a solution to the increased emissions of greenhouse gases, most of which are emitted by cars. Therefore, the US and Europe set up measures to have car manufacturers develop systems that would reduce gas emissions from cars. Nevertheless, car manufacturers such as the VW could not manufacture such cars based on their outdated technology. Therefore, the company decided to use a device that would detect when a car is being tested for exhaust emissions and activate the catalytic converter and switch it off once the car is on the road. As the respiratory complication continues to cause more death, all the blame is directed to the company, which in turn is experiencing the cost implications of this scandal.